From Design Graduate to Graphic Designer

 Heather Williams joined creative design agency microsscreative as a Graphic Designer on a 10 week GO Wales Work Placement. She has since been offered a position with the company and would like to share her pearls of wisdom with other students and graduates interested in pursuing a career in the design industry…

For the past 9 months, I have been fortunate enough to become part of the Micross Creative team. This was a very exciting step in my design career and from July 2010 till now I have learnt so much and am continuing to learn a great amount.

So what exactly have I learnt? Is there much a difference between University and the Design Industry? DEFINITELY!




Shorter Deadlines

Throughout University, I had to provide folders of work along with a final piece so that lecturers could see my design story as well as learn a few things along the way. You would normally be given a few weeks to complete these projects however in the design industry it all changes.

Within the design industry, you are often needed to give a quick turn-around so that 7 week branding and website project can be lowered down to a week or two. This was a lot to get my head around at first however, thanks to all that folder work in University; I could refer back to it and remember things I learnt from my course to help me here. After a few projects it is still a lot to get used to but you do get used to it!


Another thing that will help with these shorter deadlines is speed. You need to be able to come up with ideas really quickly both sketched and on the computer. Again, when you are used to 7 week deadlines and this is just shortened to a matter of a day or a few days, this is a lot to get your head around. I advise doing a few quick projects in your own time and give yourself real world deadlines and stick to it.

Learn Shortcuts

In order to quicken up, try to learn all software shortcuts. Since working, I have learnt so many shortcuts and am still learning now. You can see another blog post of mine on shortcuts by clicking here.

Work Experience

One thing that aided me greatly with the giant step into industry and helped me learn about the fast pace and short deadlines was getting work experience. I know what it is like to have all your coursework to do, have a social life and try to get work experience but it is worth it. You can learn about the points above as well as improve your CV and gain more confidence in the big move from Uni. Employers want to be able to see that you are truly dedicated and passionate about your subject and this is one way to show them.

Lots of ideas

You really need to be able to think of a lot of ideas in a short amount of time. No matter how stupid or mad or weird you think they are; sketch them down. That way, you can look back at your sketches and think of a way to develop it further and also you can provide the client with a bigger and wider range of ideas. The more different ideas you produce, the easier your job becomes and the happier your boss and client will be.

Look at design blogs and websites to keep up to date

These blogs are the key to inspiration; tutorials latest trends etc so in order to make sure that your skills are up to scratch and your designs are out of this world do this. You can read our blog for this kind of information or we have put together a list of amazing blogs and websites that we use for you to look at.

Be confident

When you first go into the industry you will be nervous but after a few days of settling in you will be fine. With whatever project you do, be confident (not overconfident) as this will help you make good design decisions as well as show employers, fellow colleagues and clients that you know what you are on about and that your opinion is a valid one.

Be organised

Sometimes you may be given several things to do at once from several different people. Try and put them in an order of importance and give yourself realistic deadlines and stick to them. You don’t want to annoy your boss or clients by promising something will get done by a certain time and then it not happening.

You never stop learning

As mentioned above, design blogs are a great source for inspiration, tutorials etc. But it also advised to get design books and magazines for this as well. You can also learn a vast amount from superiors such as design style, coding skills, best ways to print etc so LISTEN TO THEM. You will also learn ways to speak to and deal with colleagues and clients so you are prepared for any kind of situation that may arise.

Enjoy what you do

There will be points of the job that may be boring and monotonous or a client is driving you insane but don’t let those days put you down. Just remember how fortunate you are to be a part of this fantastic industry and how exciting it is when you present a logo or website to a happy client. I have my off days but overall I absolutely love my job which makes me a very happy designer.

I hope this helps you graduates get an insight into the design industry. If you have any questions, you can find me at: @DesignAtMicross on Twitter